Because drug offenses are typically the result of addiction, which is a mental health issue, Illinois law has created a way for people facing drug charges to seek help rather than incarceration.
This solution is drug court programs.
The first requirement is the willingness to enter the program. People must enroll voluntarily. They must also admit to a drug problem and indicate they are willing to participate in treatment. A prosecutor must provide assent for those who have received certain felony drug convictions or who have previously completed or failed a drug court program on at least three separate occasions.
Those who have a violent offense on their record in the past 10 years or whose charges include a violent offense may not be eligible.
A drug court judge creates an agreement with participants that includes all treatment requirements, as well as sanctions, fines, restitution, limited incarceration and supervision, among others. After signing this agreement, participants must fulfill every requirement or risk further sanctions, or even dismissal from the program and criminal proceedings.
Participants have a team of professionals working with them to help them complete the program. This includes the drug court judge and prosecutor, probation officer, substance abuse treatment counselor, case manager and others. Throughout the program, participants must complete scheduled and random drug tests, attend court regularly and meet all treatment requirements, which may include individual counseling, group therapy and education classes.
Usually, drug court programs last 18 to 24 months. When participants successfully complete the program, the court usually dismisses the drug charges.